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Hawaii Five-O Premiere: New Show Keeps Ties to Past

Ten thousand fans packed a section of Waikiki Beach to get a sneak preview of the new Hawaii Five-O. The televised premiere is on September 20, the same date as the original series. That connection is just one of many between the original and it’s “reimagined” successor.

Before the showing began on the giant screen used for Sunset on the Beach, the show and its producers were welcomed to Hawaii by the governor of Hawaii and the mayor of the City and County of Honolulu. Both presented proclamations honoring Hawaii Five-O. Any television series shot in Hawaii provides an economic boost to the state. However, in many productions Hawaii stands in for a different tropical location. In this series, the state gets to play itself; producers call it one of the stars of the series.

But the connection is even more personal than that. Peter Lenkov, one of three executive producers, said his father has a huge fan of the original series, and then he introduced his father, who was in the audience on the beach. The three daughters of the original show creator, Leonard Freeman, recalled their first visit to Hawaii with their father as he scouted locations in the islands. They read part of a letter from their mother to the new series producers, passing on the legacy and wishing them as much success as the first series enjoyed. Several people who performed in the original series were recognized in the audience as well.

Al Harrington played Detective Ben Kokua in the original series. He told the new cast, crew and producers that the key to being successful in Hawaii is to treat everyone with respect and love, which drew applause from the crowd. He first made the comment in Hawaiian before repeating it in English. Harrington also read a letter from James MacArthur, “Dan-o” in the original series. He got a catch in his throat when the letter mentioned Hawaii actor Zulu, who played Detective Kono Kalakua. Zulu died in 2004 in Hilo, on the island of Hawaii. In the new series, the part of Kono is played by Grace Park.

Organizers say tonight’s audience was the largest ever for Sunset on the Beach, topping the LOST finale. Producers hope their version of the series is able to do the same with television audiences, many of whom still have fond memories of the original.

Posted by: Bruce Fisher on Sep 13, 2010